Christianity – church calendar/holidays

Palm Sunday...

By tradition, churches celebrate this day by having the children parade up the aisles of the church carrying palm branches, symbolizing the palms that the people laid before the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem, on that day that began His last week on earth.

Also, by tradition, churches dry those branches, and burn them to ashes and save them all year, so that on "Ash Wednesday" the pastor/priest/man of the cloth can use them to trace the sign of the cross on the foreheads or hands of worshippers.

I've never done that - worn the sign of the cross, in ashes, on my forehead for the world to see. It's not that I'm shy about wearing a cross, either around my neck, or on my shoulder as a tattoo.

I don't know why.

The churches I've attended have been far out of the way from where I've worked, so it would have seemed easy to write off getting there before my early work time. Too inconvenient.

For a time, resisting "tradition" or the church calendar in such things felt too "traditional" or even "Catholic" so shying away for that reason could have been justified.

But at the end, I could have stopped at a church nearby work. I could have embraced history.

I think that the idea of the question...all...day...long..."why did you do that?" and "what is that for?" or "what does that mean?" felt too risky.

I love the Church calendar now. God created seasons, and changes, and the yearly rhythm. The church calendar embraces that rhythm and reminds us of the changing seasons. Each Holy Day reminds us of our redemptive history.

Anyway...this should have been written on Ash Wednesday...and this post should have been about Palm Sunday.

But that's not what went through my brain. Regret at not having the courage to wear ashes on the first day of Lent...

How do these work together?

I started "The Daniel Plan" by Rick Warren (and others) - yeah, yeah...same old, same old.  But as something to work through, there might be some meat there.

Consider the introduction of the book.

Stewardship.  Stewardship over my body.

Friends, I’ve been a poor steward of my health and a terrible example for you. While we’ve been helping many around the world, I’ve ignored the problem here at home.

So today I am publicly repenting, and I ask for your forgiveness! God expects us to take care of the bodies he has given us, but I have not done that. Now, I’ve only gained two to three pounds a year, but I have been your pastor for thirty years. So I need to lose ninety pounds! Do any of you want to join me in getting healthy?

Committing to giving my body to God first, is a way of putting the physical focus on Him, away from me.

Yet, in this season of Lent, of preparation, of looking forward in time to the work of Christ on the cross...it seems like a good time to start this way of thinking about health.

My body is not my own, it was purchased by Jesus, with His blood.

Today we make the same common mistake Greek philosophers did thousands of years ago. Aristotle, Socrates , and Plato believed in dualism, 4 which included the idea that your mind (or spirit) is important, but your body isn’t important spiritually. They devalued the body. In fact, some Greek philosophers taught that your body is evil, so it really didn’t matter if you messed it up.

The Bible tells us the exact opposite. Your body is holy because God made it, and everything God makes has a purpose. We are to bring glory to God with our bodies, so we can’t compartmentalize our lives and think that we can divorce our bodies and live as if only our spirit matters. God owns your body!

This is a repeat - the reminder of fulfilled prophesies is precious to me always.

~~~

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

“God sent me before you to preserve for
you a remnant in the earth, and to keep
you alive by a great deliverance.” Gen. 45:7

“…Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors….”

Today you will be with me in paradise

He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him. Psa. 91:15

″And it shall come to pass that
everyone who calls upon the name of the Lordshall be saved.” Acts 2:21

Woman, here is your son…here is your mother.

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Psa. 22:9-10

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives,
and especially for his immediate family,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an
unbeliever. 1 Tim 5:8

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
Psa. 22:1

“He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death,
in order to present you holy and blameless
and above reproach before him” Col. 1:22

I am thirsty

If your enemy is hungry, give him
food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water
to drink. Prov. 25:21

They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave
me sour wine to drink.
Psa. 69:21

I tell you the truth, anyone who gives
you a cup of water in my name because you
belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
Mark 9:41

It is finished.

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.” Jer.:13:31

Unlike the other high priests, he does not need
to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins,
and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their
sins once for all when he offered himself. Heb 7:27

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. Psa 31:5

“…and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?” John 11:26

This year again, wheat is what I'm focusing on (I contemplated the "processed food" thing but that's a little too much to take in)

For Advent I went through "God is in the Manger" -

For Lent, I got "God is on the Cross" - another devotional that includes writings from Boenhoffer.

The first day of Lent:

"...And take up their cross...”

That cross is already there, ready, from the very beginning; we need only take it up. But to keep us from believing that we must simply choose any arbitrary cross, or simply pick out our suffering as we will, Jesus emphasizes that each of us has his or her own cross, ready, appointed, and appropriately measured by God.

~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

If we choose our own suffering...is it a cross? Does "our cross" necessarily mean that we're suffering for God or the Gospel? Or is it just...suffering?

The idea that GOD has already chosen our path for us, has already appointed our "cross" - our way of suffering for Him, is comforting. It means that He is in control, He knows the path, He saves, He delivers, He KNOWS, and He has a purpose.

In our suffering, WE have a purpose.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

~~~1 Corinthians 1:3-5

we sang this in church this morning.  I'm still fairly new to the liturgical calendar and it resonates with me.

Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days

1 Lord! Who throughout these forty days,
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins,
And close by Thee to stay.

2 As Thou with Satan didst contend,
And didst the victory win,
Oh, give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.

3 As Thou didst hunger bear and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.

4 And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy Passion-tide,
Yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesu! with us abide.

5 Abide with us, that so, this life
Of suffering overpast,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last!

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.

(...)

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a newcovenantwith the house of Israel and the house of Judah,

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the newcovenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

I post these Scriptures each year on Good Friday, looking at the last words of Christ, and reflecting them into both the Old and New Testaments. These words were true when they were written, true a year ago and just as true today.

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

“God sent me before you to preserve for
you a remnant in the earth, and to keep
you alive by a great deliverance.” Gen. 45:7

“…Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors….”

Today you will be with me in paradise

He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him. Psa. 91:15″

And it shall come to pass that
everyone who calls upon the name of the Lords hall be saved.” Acts 2:21

Woman, here is your son…here is your mother.

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Psa. 22:9-10

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives,
and especially for his immediate family,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an
unbeliever. 1 Tim 5:8

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
Psa. 22:1

“He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death,
in order to present you holy and blameless
and above reproach before him” Col. 1:22

I am thirsty

If your enemy is hungry, give him
food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water
to drink. Prov. 25:21

They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave
me sour wine to drink.
Psa. 69:21

I tell you the truth, anyone who gives
you a cup of water in my name because you
belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
Mark 9:41

It is finished.

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.” Jer.:13:31

Unlike the other high priests, he does not need
to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins,
and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their
sins once for all when he offered himself. Heb 7:27

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. Psa 31:5

“…and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?” John 11:26

1 Comment

This is the day that Christ gave us the ordinance of the Lord's Supper and the tradition of foot-washing.

This is the night that we are given the symbols of Christ's submission to our need for a Saviour and the symbol of servant-leadership.

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them,  "Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.  (John 13: 12-17 ESV)

Christ was the greatest sovereign who had every walked the earth - God Incarnate; Immanuel.  Yet He gave this example in of service in His leadership.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom." (Matt. 26: 26-29 ESV)

and we are reminded of this later in Scripture:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor,without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body (Eph 5:25-30 ESV)

Reflections on Holy Week

this is a cross on my street.
it sits here in honor of a fallen police officer
daily, it is taken care of
by friends, family, loved ones and comrades
who rememberthere is another cross
in our memory this week
many of us pass representations of this cross
daily, we are reminded of a risen Saviour
we, who remember, look forward to
Resurrection Day

(This cross has been here since July 9 of 2007 - the day after Robert Kozminski was shot and killed in the line of duty.  My son heard the shot. The man who killed him was found guilty of murder on March 5, 2008.

I am reminded of the guilt that took Christ to that other cross.  It was not the guilt of some guy who lived down the street.  It was my guilt. Not my sins - this sin or that sin.  It was my sins.  My sinful nature, every molecule of my being that rebelled against God.  And still does.)